The National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project

News Release

Friday 30 October 2009


Lord Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes, BT and the National Portrait Gallery launch a major London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project that will create a photographic record of the people across the country making the Games happen    

To celebrate 1000 days to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Sebastian Coe launches the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project, a three-year collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and BT, the official communications services partner for London 2012. It will create 100 world-class photographic portraits celebrating the people around the UK, both high-profile and those behind the scenes, who collectively are making the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games happen. 

BT, announced today as a Premier Partner of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, is providing the funding for this project, making it possible for the National Portrait Gallery to undertake the ambitious programme of commissions between now and spring 2012. The first group is unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery. These portraits depict some of those who conceived and won the bid for London and some of the men and women now designing and delivering the Olympic Park infrastructure and other London 2012 venues. 

Brian Griffin, internationally renowned photographer, has been commissioned for the first body of work. Griffin's images draw from classical sculpture, nineteenth century symbolism and B-movies to create photographs of great strength and stillness. Shot on locations that range from the Olympic Park to the original 2012 offices at the time of the winning bid, he uses the formal qualities of studio portraits to convey both dynamism and reflection, all the more remarkable since the photographer's choice of composition is not determined until meeting his subjects at the sittings.

The first commissioned portraits include those involved in winning the bid, the delivery stage of London 2012 and those with extraordinary personal stories and family connections:

  • Olympic Gold medallists and Sports Ambassadors for the bid, Jonathan Edwards and Denise Lewis
  • Sutveer Kaur, Alex Loukos, Katie Murphy and Gurpreet Virdee, four of the 30 ‘Young Ambassadors', who were invited as members of the London 2012 delegation to the final stage of winning the bid in Singapore
  • Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) and Sir Craig Reedie, Board Member of the International Olympic Committee and, at the time of the bid, Chair of the British Olympic Authority
  • Olympic Park master planner Jason Prior, President of EDAW/AECOM, is photographed in his office together with Olympic Development Authority Director of Design and Regeneration, Alison Nimmo
  • Mike Dobriskey, a member of Olympic Park decontamination team, is portrayed on-site with his daughter, the 2009 World Championship1500 metre silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey
  • Steve Deeble, Antonn Russek, Dave Skerritt and Clare Staveley, engineers working on soil cleaning, a key part of the sustainability promise for the Olympic Park

These six portraits will be on display at the Gallery for one week from 30th October - 5th November 2009.

Further annual commissions from high-profile and emerging photographers will document sporting aspiration and performance as well as the staging and legacy of London 2012. The portraits will form a lasting record of the Games accessible to the public for many generations to come.

Confirmed sitters for 2010 include Paralympians Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Ade Adepitan, both Sports Ambassadors on the bid team. Construction industry apprentices whose employment skills have been transformed by the legacy promises of the bid will also be represented.

Each subsequent phase of the Project will be displayed free to the public at the Gallery in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012. The final display in summer 2012 will overlap with the staging of the Games and will include a larger retrospective showing of highlights of all the commissioned work.

An integrated participation programme for people living and working in the five Olympic host boroughs will explore the contributions and views on the vision and legacy of London 2012 in their local areas, resulting in display and interpretation material.

The Project website will launch in summer 2010 and visitors will be able to track and interact with the Project through video and interviews and follow the commissioning process through a regular blog. Website visitors will be able to view new portraits, participate in debates and add comments and ideas as they join the journey on the road to London 2012.        

Photographer Brian Griffin says: ‘What an honour it is for me to be chosen to launch this exciting project, affording me the opportunity to leave a legacy of photographs of the people that have both brought and are delivering the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.'

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The launch of this ambitious project, made possible by BT, is an important moment for the National Portrait Gallery. It focuses on inspirational figures who have brought the Games to London and are now building the Olympic Park.'

Seb Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), says: "With 1000 days to go, millions of people are already joining in on our journey to London 2012. The portraits we are unveiling today showcase the stories of some of the people who have already played a key role in inspiring, delivering and benefitting from London 2012.  We are delighted that BT is partnering the National Portrait Gallery - and is today becoming a Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad - which is already giving millions of people a chance to be part of London 2012."

Suzi Williams, Director of Group Marketing and Brand, BT, says: ‘As the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we believe our role is not just to install the communications services to deliver the most connected Games ever; it's also to help tell the story of the Games - to engage the nation with the people and places at the heart of the London 2012 story. This fantastic project will ensure that London 2012 is documented for generations to come - and we're really proud to be making this possible.'

To celebrate the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project, tomorrow BT is launching a portrait competition looking for the pictures and stories of the everyday people who are making a difference to the London 2012 Games.

For further press information please contact: Neil Evans, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery. Tel: 020 7312 2452 (not for publication), Email

For press images please visit the press website:

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am - 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Fridays:10am - 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Website:

For BT press information please contact the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.  All news releases can be accessed at our web site:

For London 2012 Cultural Olympiad information please contact Paul Woodmansey in the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 461,,  or visit the website at .Find out the latest from London 2012 HQ on our blog or follow us on Twitter

About BT

BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in 170 countries.  Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Open reach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

BT is proud to be the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

In the year ended 31 March 2009, BT Group's revenue was £21,390 million. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.  BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 

For more information, visit

About London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is a national celebration of culture which is happening now and is about:

  • Giving everyone in the country a chance to be part of London 2012
  • Bringing sport and art together on a scale that has never been done
  • Using the power of the Olympic Games to inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially amongst young people.
  • Making a real impact which will leave a lasting legacy well beyond 2012

BP and BT are the Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad.


The Sitters

Katie Murphy (b1987), Gurpreet Virdee (b1991), Sutveer Kaur (b1989), Alex Loukos (b1992)

Kate Murphy, Gurpreet Virdee, Sutveer Kaur, Alex Loukos (pictured left to right) are four of thirty young East Londoners, who joined the 100-strong London 2012 delegation team for the final stage of the bid in Singapore 2005. These Young Ambassadors represented both the communities that would benefit most if London won the XXXth Olympiad, and the bid team's core concept of inspiring young people.  Kaur currently works for the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) as a Starting Blocks trainee. Loukas, is a student who was inspired by his grandfather, an East End boxer, to take up the sport at Langdon School. Murphy joined Olympic suppliers Haydon M&E in London Docklands as a document controller and Virdee is now a university student. 

Alex Loukas says: ‘There were 30 of us, but we were representing all young Londoners. It was quite a responsibility.'

Photographed by Brian Griffin, 17 September 2009, Langdon School, East Ham

Alison Nimmo (b1964) and Jason Prior (b1961)

Alison Nimmo (pictured left), a chartered surveyor and town planner is recognised for managing complex urban regeneration projects. In 2003 she joined the London 2012 bid team. After London won the bid she was appointed Director of Design and Regeneration for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), with responsibility for the delivery of the Olympic Park and associated infrastructure.  Prior (pictured right) is a landscape architect, urban designer and environmental planner. As European President of EDAW he headed up a consortium of architects, engineers and landscape designers, to produce the bid masterplan for the Olympic Park. In 2006 the ODA appointed Prior and the EDAW consortium as delivery partners for the development and implementation of the plan.

Jason Prior says: ‘The Olympics are a catalyst that drive regeneration.'

Photographed by Brian Griffin, 30 September 2009, AECOM/EDAW offices, London

Sir Craig Reedie b1941 and Sir Keith Mills b1950

Sir Craig Reedie (pictured left) is a former President of the International Badminton Federation. He has been a British representative on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1994. As chair of the British Olympic Authority (1992-2005) Reedie was a key architect of London's bid, and instrumental in persuading the Government and other agencies to support it. He was appointed to the IOC Executive Board in October 2009. While working in marketing, Sir Keith Mills (pictured right) devised the Air Miles and Nectar incentive schemes, positioning him at the forefront of British business. In 2003 he was appointed Chief Executive of London 2012 to lead the bid team. Following this success he became deputy chair of LOCOG.

Photographed by Brian Griffin, 19 October 2009, original 2012 offices, Canary Wharf, London.

Michael (Mike) Dobriskey b1959 and Lisa Dobriskey b1983

Mike Dobriskey (pictured left), a soil consultant, is a member of the soil survey and decontamination team for the Olympic Park. He has worked on the site since the extensive clean-up began in preparation for the construction of the venues, roads and bridges. Lisa, Dobriskey's elder daughter, began running competitively aged eleven in Kent. In 2006 Lisa won a gold medal in the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games. She was fourth in the same event in the 2008 Olympics and this year won a silver medal in the Athletics World Championships. Dobriskey's 1500m personal best ranks her second in Britain's list of all time records.

Photographed by Brian Griffin, 1 October 2009, Olympic Park, Hackney, London

Denise Lewis b1972 and Jonathan Edwards b1966

Denise Lewis (pictured left), the West Bromwich track and field athlete, won an Olympic bronze medal in the heptathlon in 1996 and gold in the 2000 Sydney Games. Jonathan Edwards (pictured right) is a triple jumper and former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World champion. He won an Olympic bronze medal in 1996, gold in 2000 and has held the world triple jump record since 1995.

Invited by the London 2012 team to join other Olympians and Paralympians as 2012 Ambassadors, Lewis and Edwards played an important part in the bid representing sport to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This year Lewis added her support to International Inspiration, the 2012 legacy programme for young people. Edwards is the athletes' representative on the LOCOG board.

Photographed by Brian Griffin, 29 September 2009, LOCOG offices, Canary Wharf, London.

Antonn Russek b1983 David Skerritt b1966 Stephen Deeble b1958, Clare Staveley b1980

Antonn Russek, David Skerritt, Stephen Deeble and Clare Staveley (pictured from left to right) are civil engineers with the Olympic Park Enabling Works, preparing the site for construction. Russek manages the Soil Treatment Centre and the soil washing plants, which will clean 80% of contaminated soil for reuse on the site. Skerritt is a Project Manager for the Enabling Works in the south of the Park. Engineering Manager Deeble supervises the technical aspects of the project including the innovative and sustainable techniques used to fulfil London's ‘Green Games' targets. Staveley analyses soil and supervises the soil washing plants.

Russek says: ‘Technically Steve Deeble is a guru. He knows everything you need to know down to the last detail ...'

Photographed by Brian Griffin, 5 October 2009, Olympic Park, Hackney, London

The Photographer

Brian Griffin    

Born in Birmingham in 1948, Brian Griffin is one of Britain's most distinguished portrait photographers. His major works to date include portraits of those who led and built the Broadgate development in the City of London and more recently The Channel Tunnel Rail Link. After working for British Steel Corporation in Birmingham Brian Griffin studied Photography at Manchester Polytechnic School. As a Freelance Photographer he established Brian Griffin Studio. From 1991-2000 he worked on film, TV commercials and music video and as a film director. In 2000-03 he wrote the script for the feature film "Bluetown". In 2003 he worked on Birmingham's bid to become "European Capital City of Culture" and in 2004 he directed a film documentary for, and of, Sir Paul McCartney. Recent projects include "The Water People" a corporate book and exhibition for Reykjavik Energy and the "Team" book and exhibition for the state opening of St. Pancras Station. His website is